Scott Eastwood is so disarmingly down-to-earth, it is easy to forget his father is a Hollywood demigod. The phone rings at 7am, and Eastwood himself reports in a husky voice that he’s camped out at a back table on the terrace of Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, with zero publicists in sight. Cradling a cup of coffee and steel-cut oatmeal, the 31-year-old smiles through his sporadic yawns (he landed in Los Angeles two days earlier from Australia, the shoot location of the 2018 film Pacific Rim: Uprising) as he chats about his upcoming roles; his charitable work; the bands on his playlist; the book he’s reading; and life advice from his late friend Paul Walker and legendary dad, Clint Eastwood. The younger Eastwood offhandedly spills some secrets. A girlfriend? Not so much. He also reveals he’s terrified of bad drivers (acknowledging it could be an effect of losing Walker and ex-girlfriend Jewel Brangman in car accidents) and has a tendency to sleepwalk.
Later, wearing a plain white T-shirt under a Levi’s denim button-down with worn-in jeans and Lucchese cowboy boots, Eastwood eyes a slick leather jacket on a rack at the photo shoot and announces: “Nothing too trendy. I like basic, standard, soft. I’m a simple guy.”
No surprise, given his lineage as son of “the man,” that Eastwood is a straight-talking, no-fuss-dressing dude and a chiseled model of masculinity who revels in adventure—flying helicopters, surfing, diving, hunting, fishing and generally grabbing life by the horns. That’s off-screen. On set, he recently performed his most dangerous stunt ever (jumping from a car going 40 miles per hour to the top of a semitruck while roped to a single-point harness for upcoming French car heist film Overdrive). He also plays a new character who works on the covert ops team under Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody in The Fate of the Furious, the eighth installment of the action-packed Fast & Furious franchise that hits theaters April 14.
“My character only knows ‘by the book,’ and he is going to have to make some hard decisions and maybe break the rules… to save the world.” Eastwood’s pause alludes to the overblown drama of it all. Beyond being an adrenaline rush, his role is a personal tribute to Walker, who passed away in 2013 at age 40 while filming Furious 7; Eastwood also follows in Walker’s footsteps as brand ambassador for Davidoff Cool Water cologne.
“Paul was an older-brother figure to me—a mentor, someone I looked up to,” confesses Eastwood. “I find myself repeating his advice about relationships and how to live your life. I take a page out of his book all the time. He was extremely unselfish in the way he gave back [Walker founded the Reach Out Worldwide nonprofit in 2010 to aid with natural-disaster relief, and the Paul Walker Foundation protects oceans and wildlife]. He didn’t do it for the image of being a philanthropist. He kept it small and wrote checks out of his personal checkbook. He was about action. I try to live my life like that. I definitely don’t ever want to be one of those people who talks about how they want to live their life in the future.”
It’s not easy to have such a dauntingly famous last name. As a rising star with ever-larger roles, Eastwood hustles that much harder. “To be honest, sometimes I still feel like the uncool kid in Hollywood, who they don’t take seriously,” he admits. “It’s a constant battle. But I like to be in the fight. If Scott Eastwood ain’t even on their radar, that’s fine. Let’s audition.”
“I got in the movie business because I grew up watching my father’s films,” he continues. “It’s a balancing act; he did a lot of popcorn movies, but there’s been a shift in the last 30 years, and those movies are [particularly] moving and inspired me to want to be in film and be a part of, you could say, film history. My ultimate goal is to try to be in more great films that affect people.” As for whether the father and son will team up on screen in the near future: “I’ve been slipping my dad scripts; the problem is, he’s told just about every story, so you have to find something new. But he’s excited.”
“My dad is unapologetically who he is,” Eastwood adds thoughtfully. “He knows a lot about everything at 86; he’s had a lot of life. I think we see the world in the same way, probably because that’s how he taught me to see it. It’s straightforward. Have integrity. When you say you’re going to do something, be there. Don’t [screw] people over. Do the right thing. Be a man. And don’t be such a whiny little brat! He thinks there are a lot of those out there. He was born during the Great Depression, so there was no room for that; his dad struggled to feed the family when he was a kid, and that’s always stayed with him. And he’s really put that onto me. ‘You’re lucky to be where you are, and don’t ever forget that.’ He made me work really hard to get where I am. There are no handouts in our family, contrary to what anyone may or may not think.”
It says something that Eastwood now lives slightly off-the-grid in San Diego, where he is co-owner of Saddle Bar in Solana Beach, known for weekly goldfish races. En route to the shoot, his eyes light up at a Carpool Karaoke challenge, and he pairs his iPhone with the car stereo. “I’ve been listening to this band Midland that is incredible,” he says, launching into a singalong to “Free” by Zac Brown Band. “I saw them a year or two ago in Austin before they started catching traction. I like country, also old George Strait and Garth Brooks.”
These days, Eastwood is reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, a reverse-psychology book by blogger Mark Manson. “Great title, right?” he laughs. “It’s interesting because it talks about how we all [care] about something; it’s just whether we choose the important things or the unimportant things. If we don’t have some adversity, life gets easier, and we make up things to have adversity about, so we can complain. But if we put things in perspective, we realize, ‘Wait, I want to [care] about family and love and let the other [stuff] go. It will work out.’”
Eastwood does care a whole lot about issues that matter. He prioritizes fundraising for an array of charitable causes, from fighting childhood cancer with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and The Young and Brave Foundation to participating in Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity benefit for Alzheimer’s disease and Dwayne Johnson’s Spike TV Rock the Troops special to support military service members. Davidoff Cool Water is a longtime supporter of National Geographic Society’s Pristine Seas campaign to protect 10 percent of the world’s oceans by 2020, so Eastwood is a spokesman for preservation efforts and hands-on with beach cleanups. He also avidly supports Walker’s two foundations.
“I’ve had incredible opportunities in my life to do things that many people will never get to do, so it would just be selfish and a waste if I wasn’t able to give back to others and to causes I believe in,” he says, commending his mother, Jacelyn Reeves, for pushing him to be a better person. “People laser in on my dad, but I do have a mom too. She’s an incredibly gracious woman. She preaches honesty and pushes me all the time to be a better version of myself, to grow to be a nicer person, to be more compassionate. And I really value that.”
No fear of that, given a glance at Eastwood’s Instagram feed showing him reveling in ice baths, cliff jumps, water sports, meat pies and all things Aussie while on break from Pacific Rim filming, which wrapped last month. His affinity for Australia dates to 2005, when the then-19-year-old packed up his possessions on a whim and bought a one-way ticket to Oz after filming Flags of Our Fathers, directed by his dad. “I was flying back from Central America, and I ran into a [friend], who said, ‘I’m going to Australia. Why don’t you come? Life is in front of you. If you don’t live it, no one will, you know?’” he says. “I was kind of fed up with Hollywood at the time, so I told my agent that I’d be gone for a year.”